All in the Family

Nancy Carrier's Niece at RBC

A couple of months ago, a very exciting visitor came to camp. Like many others, this visitor had spent her childhood at Rockbrook as a camper, then as a counselor—unlike many others, however, her memories of Rockbrook also extend to holidays spent in the Carrier House, playing fetch with Nancy Carrier’s Great Danes, and playing games of croquet on “Aunt Nan’s lawn.”

Nancy Lesesne is the daughter of Nancy Carrier’s brother, and therefore knew the Rockbrook founder, and her husband, intimately. It was wonderful hearing stories of the Carriers away from camp—how “Aunt Nan’s” Great Danes liked to jump through the open downstairs windows to get outside (understandably scaring to death anyone standing near those windows); how the children were forbidden to disturb “Uncle Henry” when he withdrew to his study with his newspaper to manage his stocks; how Aunt Nan would frequently take the children to see her great-grandfather PT Barnum’s circus, when it came to town.

Mrs. Lesesne was particularly amused to find out that nowadays the Carrier House is widely believed by the campers to be haunted. She said that she could not recall anything particularly supernatural happening in the house when she would stay there, but allowed that it always did look a bit spooky.

Mrs. Lesesne had not been at Rockbrook since her days as a counselor, yet still she remembered her way around perfectly. Though today there are new buildings, new landscaping, and even a new family running the camp, she said it still felt the same— really good. More importantly, she commented that being at camp made her feel the same—that after all these years, coming to Rockbrook could still make her feel like an excited little girl coming home for the summer.

Carrier Niece in front of the Carrier House

The Carrier Pigeon

We have just mailed the 2012 Rockbrook Carrier Pigeon to this years campers and staff.  The Carrier Pigeon is the camp’s annual yearbook featuring stories, poems, drawings and photographs of the summer.  The Carrier Pigeon has been published each year since the camp was founded in 1921, making it one of the best resources for the history of camp.  This makes this years copy the 91st edition of the Rockbrook memory book.  The Carrier Pigeons are wonderful treasures filled with Rockbrook memories and fun times.  Here are some samples from over the years:

Carrier Pigeon writings 1926
The Carrier Pigeon, 1926

The Aim of the Pigeon

“Like ghosts passing to and fro, good times come and good times go.”

Good times do come and go as swiftly, but the Pigeon is going to help us keep our good times with us.  The little funny incidences and all the pleasures that go toward making up this happy summer of ours are going to pass more slowly because of the Pigeon.  Certainly, time will pass as quickly, but the memories will remain.

In the long winter to come, we will be able to laugh and talk over the good times at camp.  Not only that, but we will be able to pass on our happiness and share it with others- the others that are not with us now.  All because of the Pigeon that will bring back our memories at Christmas time.

We will never forget it it, this happy summer of ours, It is the aim of the Pigeon to do this, to serve as a record of happy memories.  With your help it will succeed. – K. Wallingford, Junior Editor

Camp writings book 1980
The Carrier Pigeon, 1980

To Me Rockbrook Means-

togetherness around a campfire

Jean and Sarah Scott playing their guitars

And everyone listening and enjoying the soft music

Making crafts and going home and sharing them with your family

Sitting on the hill in the evening watching the sun slowly

fade behind the proud tall mountains

Rockbrook I thank you for the Happy days you gave me. – Muffy Howard

We hope you have many happy memories of your time at RBC and if you have any copies of your old Carrier Pigeons we would love to hear from you.  Please share with us any of your favorite camp poems, memories, stories and photos.

The Heart of Rockbrook

The 2011 Carrier Pigeon, our annual summer yearbook, is at the printer right now in preparation for sending out over the holiday.  It is filled with so many wonderful stories and memories of the past summer. There are so many highlights, we thought we would share a few with you!  The fun, friends and feeling of Rockbrook never changes, whether it is 1921 or 2011!

Splashing and laughing
in the rocky creek,
with our tangled hair
and our soaking wet feet;
In the dining hall
we all loudly sing,
then at rest hour flop down
and don’t say a thing.

Cabinmates are like sisters,
and friends ever better,
everyone’s hoping
to receive a letter.
Walking along
a quiet forest trail
or running a brush
through a horse’s soft tail.
In hilarious evening skits
every girl has a part,
In this beautiful wooded mountain,
you can tell why we’re called the heart.
       —Miriam E.

Old Camp Photo

Trail Rides at Rockbrook Camp

Horseback Riding at summer camp
Campers gather near the old barn for a trail ride, 1920’s

In the early days of Rockbrook, trail riding was a popular activity.  Rockbrook’s location 3 miles from Brevard was far enough from the hustle and bustle of town to allow the girls to ride to the river or down the road towards Caesar’s Head.  They also had daily instruction in the ring on what is now our sports field.  In the 1920’s, Mrs. Carrier along with the barn staff would even ride the horses over Caesar’s Head and down to Greenville to return them to their winter home. What an adventure!

Eventually, the riding program outgrew the sports field location and moved across the road to it’s current home.  This location features 3 riding rings and a jump course as well as several pastures and an inviting trail that follows the French Broad River.  We no longer ride over Caesar’s Head on horseback, but there are plenty of exciting adventures that happen down at the barn!

Camping in the Mountains

Check out this great page from a 1941 Rockbrook Catalog.  Campers had the opportunity to go on lots of different adventures including overnight camping trips.  Camping trips now follow the principles of Leave No Trace, but back in the 1940’s you can see that the camp outs were quite elaborate.  Don’t you know those S’mores tasted delicious?!

Campers at Rockbrook enjoy an overnight camp out
Rockbrook Catalog Excerpt, 1941

Rockbrook Campers at Triple Falls

Campers enjoy an out of camp trip to a local waterfall
Rockbrook Campers, 1923, Triple Falls

While doing some research on camp history at the Transylvania County Library, we came across this photograph of some Rockbrook Campers from 1923.  The label on the back of the photograph indicates it was taken at a local waterfall, (believed to be Triple Falls ) which is located in today’s Dupont State Forest.    Dupont State Forest was founded between 1995-2000 and is a 10,300 acre state forest featuring over 9 spectacular waterfalls.  In the early days of Rockbrook campers got to visit these waterfalls.  At some point the property fell into private ownership and was not reopened for visitors until 1995.    We now offer our campers trips to Dupont, just like we did in 1923!

Let us know if you remember any waterfall trips from when you were a camper.  In our next blog post we will feature more about our local waterfalls.

Polar Bear Swim at Camp- Brrr!

Swimming at Summer Camp
Swimming at Rockbrook, 1925

One of the most common memories shared with us from our former campers is their recollections of  Polar bear swim in the chilly lake at camp.  Campers would get up at the rising bell, and with their counselors would run down to the lake for a quick dip.  What a refreshing way to start the day!!

We found a great write up about Polar Bear in our Rockbrook Memories Book.  Jerkey, a much beloved Rockbrook director would lead the girls in their morning plunge.

“Much of the fun at camp that summer stemmed from Jerkey’s leadership.  I can see her now as she led us during those wee hours of the early morning in a series of setting up exercises before we jumped into that icy cold pool.  Somehow, even in my shivering state, she made it seem glorious thing to do.”

You will be glad to know that the Polar Bear tradition continues today and that the camp lake is as chilly as ever!!  As the camp song states: “Polar, polar, polar bear, you can be a part of it all, if you dare!”

Horseback Riding History at Camp

Since the founding of Rockbrook in 1921, Horseback Riding has been a perennial favorite  for many of our campers.  Our program is based on the forward seat style of riding and we have always had horses and instructors to work with all skill levels.  In a Rockbrook catalog from 1926 the Horseback Riding program is a featured activity.  Here is an excerpt:

“A string of well broken horses affords every girl an opportunity to enjoy this wholesome sport.  In an enclosed field each camper is instructed by experts in the arts of horsemanship.  She is taught how to bridle, saddle and mount a horse; how to care for it on trip; how to feed and groom her mount as well as how to ride gracefully and securely.”

Here is another featured comment of the 1926 catalog:

“The horse show of Event Week attracts spectators from the neighboring country and cities and Rockbrook has been referred to as “The Camp where the girls are taught to ride so well.”

The horse show at Rockbrook occurs at the end of each session.
Campers each receive a ribbon during the Rockbrook horse show

So as you can see from the 1920’s or 1970’s up to today, our riding program continues to offer girls a wonderful place to learn the skills and joys of horseback riding.  If you have any great horseback riding stories from your time at camp we would love to hear from you.  We would love to know more about some of the overnight trail rides and any of your favorite horses.  Some of the horses we often hear stories about are Sambo, Peaches, April, Be Good and Druid.  Please help us add to our horseback riding archive!

Visit our website to learn more about our current horseback riding program.

Rockbrook Party in Charlottesville, VA

Rockbrook Camp Alumnae gather in Charlottesville
Sarah, McKenzie, Mercer and Mandy enjoy a visit in VA

During the fall and winter we travel around the country sharing Rockbrook with potential campers, current campers and their families.  We always love it when Rockbrook Alumnae are able to join us at the parties and share their camp memories and stories.

Just a few weeks ago we had a great show in Charlottesville, VA and were thrilled to be joined by McKenzie Harper Inigo and Mercer Reeves.  McKenzie and Mercer were both campers and counselors for many years.  Mandy and Sarah enjoyed getting to catch up with both of them! Those Rockbrook friendships sure are special no matter how many years it has been since you were at camp together!

We All Scream for Ice Cream!

The Biltmore Train arrives at Rockbrook Camp
The Biltmore Train, Summer 1968

One of our favorite and long standing Rockbrook traditions is the special treat known as “The Biltmore Train.”  It is an all you can eat ice cream extravaganza that has been happening at Rockbrook for many years.  It is a Rockbrook  “Surprise” and is announced with a special “choo choo” train song and skit.  When the tradition started the actual Bitmore Dairy Truck would drive up to camp and serve the ice cream (as seen in the photo above).  The Biltmore Dairy is no longer in business but we sure still enjoy it’s namesake activity.  “Biltmore, Biltmore” can often be heard being chanted around camp as the campers hope for the surprise ice cream day to arrive.